Typing fast is a skill often overlooked by a lot of people. But if you want to get work done more efficiently on your computer, or even if you just want to play PC games without having to look so often for the right keys, almost everybody could benefit from learning how to type fast on a standard keyboard.
I’ve been a writer for a couple of years now, and I made sure that from the start I would work on improving my typing speed. At first, I was one of those people who couldn’t type without looking at the keyboard. My average typing speed was under 40 words per minute (WPM). Now I can type articles at 80 WPM and I can complete typing tests with a score of up to 110 WPM.
I know that’s not ridiculously fast. Some speed typists can type up to 200 WPM. But for most people, just getting your average speed above 50 WPM is enough to make you competitive for most jobs where typing is a required skill.
Achieving speeds of 50 WPM and above can take several weeks of practice, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Today, I’ll share the sites I’ve used and the things I bought that helped me become a faster typist.
Learn Touch Typing
One of the best ways to improve your speed is to learn how to type without looking at the keyboard. Like playing the guitar, you can play faster and better if your fingers know how to hit every note without you needing to look at your hands.
Touch typing is basically typing from muscle memory. When fast typists type on a keyboard, they generally don’t have to think about every letter’s location on a keyboard. Their fingers simply hit the right keys for the word they’re thinking — the same way you aren’t consciously thinking about how to move your pencil to make a letter when you’re writing on paper.
There are a ton of websites that offer touch typing training and tutoring, but the best one I found (and the one I used years ago) is Ratatype.com. It has typing tests, training, and even an official test with a certificate you can attach to your CV or resume if you’re planning to use your typing skills for work.
Touch typing is generally learned after learning how to quickly type the most used words in your language. That way, you can construct full words without necessarily thinking about the spelling of the words you’re typing.
Other than that, touch typing will also make you faster at typing punctuation and numbers, as well as hitting shift keys, space bars, and other keys without needing to stop and check if you’re actually pressing the right keys.
Practice and Practice
Touch typing is all about building muscle memory in your fingers, and there’s no better way to do that than through repetition until your fingers memorize every key position. But, you can’t just type the same words over and over again.
Lucky for us, there are typing tests that give you a series of random words to type out. And most tests can also generate quotes and full sentences so you can practice fast typing with punctuation and a mix of upper and lowercase letters.
The site I recommend for getting more typing practice is monkeytype.com. It offers all the things I mentioned, and you can customize the test parameters or even themes for the site.
To reach 60 WPM, you might have to practice one or two hours per day for a week or two. Like building any other skill, being a faster typist will take a good amount of focus to achieve. And that gets us to my next point:
To practice, you need to focus for a decent amount of time. To help you stay focused, I recommend turning your training into a competition (even if you’re just starting out). Turning typing practice into a game or a race you can win can make you more motivated to put that practice time in.
The main app or website I recommend for you to get competitive with your typing speeds is typeracer.com. This game is basically like a street race but, instead of an engine running your car, it’s your typing speed.
The faster you type, the faster your race car will go. Each mistake you make will slow your car down, even stopping it in some cases. So playing this game will motivate you to type faster and more accurately at the same time. Plus, once you get addicted to it, you won’t even notice that you’ve spent hours practicing your typing since it just feels like you’re playing a game.
Do It Over and Over Again With Different Keyboard Layouts
More often than not, typists will face a wall: a limit to their maximum typing speed. That happens so often with the standard QWERTY keyboard that most of us use. But there are other keyboard layouts that are much more efficient than what QWERTY can achieve.
Don’t get me wrong, you can type extremely fast on QWERTY. But once you hit those higher speeds, any speedbump or gap in your typing efficiency will greatly slow you down. This is because of the positioning of the letters A, E, I, O, R, T, S, D, H, C, N, and M, the most used letters on the keyboard when you’re typing in English.
Typing on a QWERTY keyboard will make you move and shift your finger positioning much more often since those letters are positioned so far apart from each other.
If we take something like DVORAK keyboard above, on the other hand, the most used letters are much closer together so you’re not shifting your hands as much. However, many of the most used keys are clustered up to the right, which means that your right-hand fingers have to work more.
The Colemak layout, meanwhile, was designed for speed and efficiency. The most used letters are lined up in a straight line on the middle row, with just two letters missing: C and M. This allows you to type without shifting your hands and fingers too much and the work is distributed more evenly between your left and right hands. That means more typing speed and efficiency, and less of your fingers fumbling around.
While it’s a good idea to get comfortable with the Colemak layout if you’re interested in speed typing, it is hard to set up. You have to install custom software and use a customized keyboard with your new layout’s letter positions.
If you can take all that hassle then be my guest, but I generally recommend learning how to type faster on a QWERTY keyboard first since that’s what you’ll find by default on most computers. If you max out your speed on a QWERTY and still want to get faster, consider making the switch to Coleman.
Invest in Typing Gear
The best way to make typing practice a habit is to make it comfortable! Sure, we have typing games online, and we can compete with others to see who’s the fastest typer. But, typing on a crappy membrane keyboard that’s built into your laptop isn’t going to cut it. Sure it works, but, it won’t be comfortable.
The most important upgrade you can make is switching from that membrane keyboard to a mechanical one. Three things make mechanical keyboards better to use.
The first is their sound. Typing slow may not sound like anything worth noting, but have you heard someone type fast on a typewriter or a loud keyboard? It’s a satisfying, rhythmic sound. Of course, not all people will love loud keyboards. Fortunately, there are mods you can do to make your keyboard quieter or louder, based on your preference.
The second thing is feel. A mechanical keyboard just feels great to type on because there’s more feedback. It’s also more customizable. You can get a mechanical keyboard that feel tactile where you can feel every keystroke. But you can also get keyboards that feel linear and smooth (and quiet) which are less distracting to type on.
But, the real question is “will it make me faster?” It probably will. When I got my first mechanical keyboard, I was already typing up to 80 WPM on my laptop. At first, typing on my mechanical keyboard made me a little slower because it does take some getting used to. After a few days, though, I got my speed back up to 80 WPM. After a week, I reached my 110 WPM personal best.
A mechanical keyboard doesn’t make you magically type faster, of course. But it is so much more comfortable to use that you’ll practice for longer and more consistently. So it’s not a must to reach higher speeds, but it is a great investment for anyone who intends to spend a lot of time typing.
A mechanical keyboard is a bit taller than your normal laptop or membrane keyboard. This can make using one a little awkward since the extra height might mess with your muscle memory.
A wrist rest can help compensate for that added height by raising your hands up to be more level with the keys. It doesn’t necessarily “rest” your wrists, it just elevates them so you can reach your keys easier.
Start Your Journey!
As with any skills you might want to acquire, it’s all about actually taking that first step. Here’s a list of the websites I mentioned above to help you get faster in typing so you don’t have to scroll back through the article:
Feel free to ask questions or drop your own tips and resources in the comments below. Thanks for reading!